Witches Brew Records
7.5/10 – review by Jamie Cansdale
It begins with the wail of a man before becoming bludgeoned by the Call of the Tyrant – and this is one tyrant of a record. From the get go, this debut slab of utterly ghoulish death/doom is a beast so heavy it is unfathomable. Switching between pure death metal (Ia Cthulhu) to the slow life-rendering crawl of songs like Mankind’s Damnation with effortless ease, Dagon may not be the most original release to come of late but does very well to keep listeners hooked until the very end.
Originally being released independently by the band two years ago, this rerelease on Witches Brew should, with any stroke of debauched luck, see the band reach a wider audience: Dagon has become somewhat of a cult record since it was originally unleashed. And this rerelease is long overdue. Unlike a lot of death/doom, this is an utterly fun record to get stuck into. Lovecraftian lore is the prime source material here, and with Dagon Tyrant’s Kall have provided a most suitably sounding soundtrack to the end of the world brought on by the beast itself.
Beginning with The Call of the Tyrant, a song that is perhaps best not to be seen as an intro instrumental (at over five minutes in length it can hardly be called such), the listener can expect a barrage of double kicks and death metal riffs that will keep them licking their lips for sustenance there on in. On top of this is that voice: the evil, filth-laden vocals spewing from the mouth of Esmee Tabasco. Imagine a cross between Sharon Bascovsky (Derkéta) and Vivian Slaughter/Mika Penetrator (Gallhammer) and you have Esmee. The slower the music gets, the more bone-crushing it becomes and the more ghoulish Esmee becomes. Songs like Slimy Existence and the title track stand out here, but it is the longer songs of the bunch – Mankind’s Damnation and The Swamps – that make this listener come back for more; the latter for example begins like Gallhammer’s Song of Ash.
What keeps this record above a lot of other death/doom records is their ability to shift from this sound to a more evil heavy metal approach. Take Mankind’s Damnation: towards the end, Esmee’s vocals shift from guttural to, well, a dirty sing-a-long style, the sort that make us sing along with her, pump our fists in the air and bang our heads. The music also takes a rhythmic shift to heavy metal yet still keeping a sound fitting to their subject matter. It’s music to keep you on your feet before sending you back down into the slimy wastelands below.
Overall Dagon works as a brilliant debut with some killer vocals, killer delivery and killer musicianship to boot. I am aware I have not spoken much of the music itself, but trust that it is what we have come to expect of the slower death metal bands: relentless, pummelling and downright creepy. This is worth getting your hands on before end-time.